Epaulette on Caulfield Guineas 2012 Path

Golden Slipper failure Epaulette may not be classed in the same category as his former star stablemates Sepoy and Helmet but trainer Peter Snowden still has high hopes they can develop into a Group 1 winner this spring with the 2012 Caulfield Guineas on the agenda.

Snowden and his employers Darley Australia enjoyed a faultless 2011-12 season with that year’s crop of two to three-year-olds thanks primarily to the great feats achieved by Sepoy and Helmet.

During the autumn the now retired Sepoy became the first horse in 22 years to win the Blue Diamond Stakes – Golden Slipper double.

The Elusive Quality colt would add two more Group 1 wins to their tally last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival with success in the Manikato Stakes and Coolmore Stud Stakes.

Exceed And Excel colt Helmet, also purchased by Godolphin and sent overseas with Sepoy before their recent retirement, was another Snowden revelation last year winning back-to-back Group 1’s in the autumn with the Inglis Sires Produce Stakes and Champagne Stakes.

Helmet also came back in the spring and won the Caulfield Guineas down the Caulfield mile in October.

While realistic about the number of Group 1 wins up their sleeve this coming season with Sepoy and Helmet now out of the picture, Snowden and co. remain confident of good representation in the majors including young Epaulette who will look to emulate Helmet in winning the $1 million Group 1 The Age Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 13, 2012.

“Those sort of horses (like Sepoy and Helmet) come around once every 10 years or more, you certainly don’t get them often, but we’re trying our best to get something out of the lot we’ve got and there’s some really nice horses there,” Paul Snowden, son of Peter, said.

“We probably had a lot of late maturing two-year-olds, which are about to turn three, and we want to hopefully be kicking a goal with them this year.

“You always peg your mark with them but whether or they get there, it’s up to them.

“We’re certainly going to be aiming up at those sort of races but whether they get there or not is a different story.”

Commands colt Epaulette, a half-brother to Helmet sharing the dam Accessories, made a successful start to their career winning on debut at Rosehill on Boxing Day.

They resumed at Canberra in March this year and stayed unbeaten with a tight victory in the Listed Black Opal Stakes (1200m).

Next start they came up against a champion in the Gai Waterhouse-trained Pierro but were far from disgraced when a nose away second to them in the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m).

Things went amiss next start however when Epaulette missed the start and finished dead last behind Pierro, beaten six lengths, in the world’s richest race for two-year-olds, the $3.5 million Group 1 AAMI Golden Slipper (1200m) on April 7.

“He’s a really nice horse, I think he was pretty harshly done by the Slipper – he missed the start and it was all over for him – but he’s certainly a colt that’s had a lot of ability from day one,” Snowden said.

Along with Epaulette other current juveniles Snowden has eyeing off the Caulfield Guineas 2012 include Sires Produce Stakes third placegetter Limes and Tatra who ran third in the Champagne Stakes, and maiden Exceed And Excel colt Narcissus who ran a good second to Black Caviar’s half-brother All Too Hard in the Pago Pago Stakes before their 13th in the Golden Sipper.

Nominations for the 2012 Caulfield Guineas will be taken on August 7.

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